American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California
In May 1960, students and progressive activists opposed to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) demonstrated when HUAC held hearings in San Francisco's City Hall. San Francisco police turned firehoses on the demonstrators, washing them down the main staircase of City Hall, and the resultant publicity did much to engender the social consciousness of the 1960s. HUAC sympathizers produced a film, "Operation Abolition," condemning the demonstrators as Communist-inspired activists. The ACLU produced this film as a rejoinder to and critique of "Operation Abolition," incorporating many of its sequences and disputing its distortions.
June 19, 2009 Subject:
ACLU vs HUAC
The various Un-American Activities Committees that sprang up during the Red Scare have been discredited pretty thoroughly, and California's iteration under State Senator Jack B. Tenney was certainly no exception. The original "Operation Abolition," produced by the Mutual networks's fierce right-wing commentator Fulton Lewis, Jr., tried to show how students, labor leader Harry Bridges, and lefties had interrupted California's investigative hearings. "Operation Correction," produced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, used the same footage as Lewis, but restored its chronological order to show how the police started the riots. Interestingly, the ACLU did, indeed, distance itself from Communists. Despite their mandate to protect the Bill of Rights (including freedom of speech and association), the National ACLU under its founder, Roger Baldwin, had a lamentable tolerance for Red-baiting and loyalty oaths. Fortunately, the affiliate California ACLUs (Northern and Southern) were more democratic and their views prevail to the present. "Operation Correction" needs to be seen with "Operation Correction" (indeed, for years they were run as a double-feature fundraiser) in order to be truly appreciated.
December 9, 2003 Subject:
He Said You Said
Quite an interesting historical piece narrated by a ACLU spokesperson (with a single piece of paper) about the hosing down of people as they were protesting the HUAC meetings in San Fransisco in 1960. The goverment made a film calling the protesters 'communists'. The ACLU has responded, and made this film, attempting to refute the claims made by the government.
Although it's next to impossible to gauge who's right in all of this, it's quite interesting to see the ACLU point fingers at the government for making a biased film, when they're making one themselves. No doubt edited down to make the ACLU look good, it's also interesting to note how the ACLU distances themselves from certain individuals they themselves see as 'Communists'. I mean, how ACLU is that?